Paris; a food diary

I spent the first week of June in Paris, France on business.

The French have a few things I admire.

1. A direct way of communicating. Some call it rude, I call it effective.
2. Bakeries. The smell of warm butter wraps around you like a fuzzy blanket upon entering these magical sweet spaces. A welcome change from the stink of smoke, piss and diesel on the streets. The boulangeries are packed with stacks of pain au chocolat and croissant, trays of flan, meringues the size of cantaloupes, piles of baguette sandwiches, cakes, tarts, mousse, pies and biscuits.
3. Wine.
4. An excellent transit system. The Paris Metro is very well thought out with plenty of arrows, signs and logically planned routes. As a directionally challenged person, I can't say enough good things about how easy it was for me to get around the city.
5. Mustard. So many flavours, so little time.
6. Meals. The French take their eating seriously. Quality is king.

In addition to seeing Bastille, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysée and the Eiffel Tower, below is a list of what I ate:

AirFrance in flight meal:
Glass of Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top champagne
Chicken fricasse with egg and cream supreme sauce, wild rice medley, carrot and yellow zucchini julienne
Fruit compote
Cranberry-orange cake
Glass of Vins de Pay d'Oc Vermentina 2009 Coleurs du Sud

DAY 1 (cont'd)
Pain au chocolat
Cafe creme
(NOTE: this is the modern way to say 'cafe au lait' as the energetic waiter told me I was in the wrong century when I ordered a cafe au lait)
Baguette with tomato, goat cheese, proscuitto, lettuce and mayonnaise
Can of Heiniken from the minibar
Filet of salmon with a cream pepper sauce, green beans
Glass of Cote du Rhone

Red berry fruit blend smoothie
Cafe creme and a small pain au chocolat
Apple juice
Traditional "Train Bleu" lobster bisque
Sauteed lamb with pistachio and almond sauce served with dried apricot polenta
Fresh fruit with raspberry sorbet
Glass of Vin du Pays d'Oc Viognier
Glass of Cotes de Castillon Chateau Moulin de Bouty
Bottle of Orangina
Can of Heiniken from the minibar
Avocado shrimp cocktail
Marinated mussels and frites
Glass of Beaujoulais

Vanilla maple yogurt drink
Mango passionfruit fruit blend smoothie
"Amuse bouche" - a small glass of chopped cucumber, tomato and corn with oregano and chiles
Salade Parisienne
Glass of white wine
Can of Kronenberg from a corner store
Martini Rosso
Goat cheese pizza with fresh tomotoes, tomato sauce, mozzarella, oregano, arugula
Glass of red wine
Chocolat mousse

Pain au chocolat
Cafe creme
Kiwi pineapple fruit blend smoothie
AirFrance in flight meal:
Glass of Jacquart Brut Mosaique champagne
Chicken with blanquette cream sauce, rice and carrots
Camembert cheese
Chocolate mousse
Berry tartlet
Glass of Vins de Pays d'Oc 2008 Coleurs du Sud

A tasty trip but the highlight above all was watching a couple water hens with their five red headed baby chicks float around in a small pond at the Jardin des Plantes.

Here is the work I did.

It's nice to go away...but nicer to come home.
Especially with a couple of bottles of Lanson champagne in tow from the duty free shop.

salt: it's essential

I am on my last few pinches of a rock sea salt I picked up at a high end kitchen store called Sur la Table, in Santa Monica two years ago. Yesterday at the market I took a peek to see if they had any of the same brand. No. However, there was over a dozen types: pink, grey, black, red, sea, rock, smoked. Well isn't Paul Kennedy's show Ideas on CBC Radio doing a two part documentary about...salt. A guy wrote a book - The History of Salt. People used to be paid in salt, believed to be the origin of the word 'salary' and 'soldier'. 'Wich' maybe from the Greek, implies: somewhere there is salt. Sandwich, Greenwich, Norwich. 'I like salt. We are bombarded with information about sodium and high blood pressure but salt is a complicated ancient commodity we take for granted. If you believe our origins are from the sea, be sure salt was involved. Salt is something civilization couldn't do without. Portuguese (salt cod), Egyptians (preserving the dead), Israel (Dead Sea), Ukrainians (welcoming visitors with bread and salt). Prior to the Industrial revolution we relied on salt for international trade. Locally, my shopping trip to the market shows that France is the biggest producer. And California. This is confirmed by Paul (Ideas) Kennedy who spends an afternoon of salt tasting with Elizabeth Baird (Canadian Living Magazine). His favourite: Malden sea salt from England that reportedly melts and explodes in your mouth. And they pointed out the grey fancy stuff form France is just dirty. Not in the good way. And it's more expensive. You're better off with Sifto. If you want to got upscale they suggest a Fleur de Sel from France or Portugal. France has an annual festival of storytelling in a small town where people told stories (lies) in a town square. A goat hangs in the middle of the square symbolizing the devil. Two little kids dressed in white (purity) come out with little bags of salt and offers it to the contestants. They form tails from this salt in their bag and whoever ends up with the most salt at the end, wins the tournament. And there is such a thing called the World Salt Symposium, now in it's 8th year. It's mostly men in suits, the suits of salt who spend time thinking of how to make more money off the stuff. TIP: Add some salt to ice water to chill your champagne in a hurry. I could write about Angelina Jolie's movie, Salt coming out this summer, but I'll stop here.